Top positive review
39 people found this helpful
on 5 April 2002
Here we go again,the same old question,"What's this we're listening to? It sounds familiar but the covers weird,like a chessboard or something.When did you say it was recorded? I can't find a date on it."
So again,the same old question.What is this? Well it's kraut-rock,but not as you know it,you know it better as trance or techno or whatever the fad is this week. This is what Deep Blue chills out to after giving Kasparov yet another thrashing over the Internet. This is what will still shine when all the stars are dead.
It's 1981,I am 12 years old and listening to the same old same old. The mysteries of kraut-rock will not be revealed to me for at least another decade. But it matters not 'cos the scene is already long gone. Kraftwerk had more or less swan-songed with the quirky Computer World,the once mighty Tangerine Dream were cranking out 2 Hollywood sound-tracks a year,Can were finally out of ideas and everything else had been deleted.
Then from nowhere came E2-E4. Beamed to the Earth from the near future here was a fully formed archetype,a whole new genre of music,right here right now. Sure there were other pieces of early electronica around at the time,Jarre's highfalutin Magnetic Fields for example,but it all just paled in comparison. It either took itself far too seriously or was laughing at it's own cleverness. Even Eno and Byrnes masterly My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts,another '81 release,sounds more than a little po-faced to us know it all 21st century wolves. But E2-E4,I don't know, it's different somehow. The creative fire that could have nourished a 100 albums had been poured into just one and it's so difficult to criticise. At worst it's harmless and at best it's ground breaking electronica up there with Clusters Zuckerzeit album and Moebius and Planks Material. But influences by,or similarities to, no, there's nothing out there. Apart from maybe Steve Reich's work with Pat Metheney(remember The Orb's Little Fluffy Clouds sample?)
Gottsching had started out a guitar man but he spent a helluva lot of time hanging out with tech genius Klaus Schulze(check out his LP Black Dance) in the awesome Ash Ra Tempel. Schulze taught him well the way of machines,and on E2-E4 it shows. Some of the sequencer patterns on the album really are quite beautiful and astonishingly way ahead of their time . With every replay another sound track appears out of the mix. Listen out for that glass bottle thing dropping the smallest of octaves each time you hear it,until gradually,it begins to rise again, the perfect sine wave.
It's true genius, however, lies in the fact that it does not let up. E2-E4 pulses relentlessly for a full 60 minutes. Not fancy time changes, or themes, or any of that crap ,just one endless chess game drawn out forever over a blissfully cosmic event horizon(there is a track listing of sorts but to my dumb old ears its just one continuous unfolding )
Then there's the small matter of the guitar solo. I'm not going to tell you how long it lasts 'cos alarms bells will start ringing but what I will say is you've got to take stock of Gottsching's pedigree,specifically, his input into thee greatest rock'n'roll burn out of all time, Ash Ra Tempel's Join Inn, before you make a judgement on what you're listening to. For all the extraordinary electronica going on here the actual guitar track itself is quite unsullied and pure. No effects,or gimmicks,just a controlled and confident"I've made my mark so sod it" Muso ramblings are not my bag but i've got to hand it to Gottsching,it really does work.
10 years later Derrick May remixed this classic into Sueno Latino and finally the 'out of time' E2-E4 was back in the 90"s where it belonged,and now it had a medium,compact disc,on which it could truly shine. All the seminal electronica of the 90's,Underworlds Rez, The Chemical Brothers Music -Response,Underground Resistances' Amazon,Jaydees Plastic Dreams,all are in some way indebted to Gottschings old masterpiece.But if your buying this record for a history lesson,be prepared for a future-shock.